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Cross Cultural Management Guide for Norway

The cultural insights offered below are for managers who want to learn more about the management style and business culture of Norway.

The guide provides some useful information for managers who are relocating to the country for employment as well as those who may have Norwegian employees in their global or multicultural teams.

Topics include:

  • Hierarchy
  • Leadership style
  • Time and scheduling 
  • Communication style and; 
  • Negotiation style 

Being a Manager in Norway

The Norwegian management style tends to be characterized by a collaborative and egalitarian approach. The country places a high value on teamwork and consensus-building, with a strong emphasis on employee participation and involvement in decision-making processes. This approach is often referred to as "the Norwegian model" and is influenced by the country's culture of social democracy.

  • There are few large companies in Norway.
  • The government owns wholly or partially many major companies.
  • The government encourages an open economy and welcomes private industry as well as foreign investment.
  • In Norway, there is a sense that all people in the organization have an important role to play and all are valued for their input.
  • Therefore in this culture, managers will consult employees to gather background information or have them share in the decision-making process.
  • Employees expect to be consulted on decisions that affect them.

The Role of a Manager

Foreign managers need to recognize that Norwegians value the specialized knowledge that employees at all levels bring.

  • In Norway, as in most egalitarian cultures, positions of authority are earned largely on the basis of individual achievement and people at all levels of the organization, while respecting authority, are free to aspire to those positions.
  • The role of the leader is to harness the talent of the group assembled and develop any resulting synergies.
  • The leader will be deferred to as the final authority in any decisions, but they do not dominate the discussion or generation of ideas.
  • Praise should be given to the entire group as well as to individuals.

Approach to Change

Norway’s cultural appetite for change is moderate. Norwegians tend to be open to new ideas and innovation, but there is often a preference for gradual, incremental change rather than sudden or radical shifts. This is reflected in the country's approach to technology adoption, for example, where new technologies are often tested and evaluated thoroughly before being fully integrated into operations.

  • Projects will need to be carefully analyzed every step of the way to assure that all the risks have been assessed and understood.
  • Failure in Norway causes a long-term loss of confidence in the individual and others.
  • Because of this attitude, cultural sensitivity is going to be required, especially when conducting group meetings and discussing contributions made by participating individuals.

Approach to Time and Priorities

Norway is a controlled-time culture, and adherence to schedules is important and expected.

  • In Norway missing a deadline is a sign of poor management and inefficiency, and will shake people’s confidence.
  • Effective management will depend on the individual’s ability to meet deadlines.

Decision Making

Managers generally act as coordinators or team leaders rather than autocratic micro-managers.

  • They are task-oriented and emphasize achieving a goal, productivity and profits. They expect their employees to do their job in a professional manner.
  • Managers make decisions after they have reached a consensus with their work team or others who will be affected by the decision.
  • Their egalitarian culture supports a participative management style.

Boss or Team Player?

Norwegians tend to value cooperation and collaboration, with an emphasis on building relationships and trust among team members. The idea of a flat hierarchy is also prevalent, where all employees are encouraged to contribute their ideas and opinions, regardless of their position in the company.

  • The leader will be deferred to as the final authority in any decisions, but they do not dominate the discussion or generation of ideas.
  • Praise should be given to the entire group as well as to individuals.

Communication and Negotiation Styles

In terms of communication, Norwegians tend to be direct and honest, with a preference for open and transparent communication channels. This can include regular meetings and check-ins between managers and employees, as well as opportunities for feedback and input from all team members. However, Norwegians can also be reserved and may take time to build trust and relationships with colleagues, particularly in more formal business settings.

  • Expect decisions to take time as your colleagues must weigh all the alternatives.
  • Present a firm, realistic, and competitive initial price and expect a minimum of bargaining.
  • Price is often the most critical deciding factor.
  • Norwegians do not generally give discounts, even to good customers or for large orders.

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